Union Contends Secondary Barriers A "No-Brainer"
While airline pilots are grateful
for the hardened cockpit doors mandated after 9/11, there are some
who say those doors don't make the cockpit nearly secure enough...
and they want to see 'secondary barriers' installed as well.
The concern lies in the brief periods when trips to the lavatory
or to get a meal leave the cockpit open and vulnerable. There is a
current practice of having flight attendants block the isle with a
beverage cart that some pilots utilize, but more can be done. Some
pilots believe a secondary barrier - a relatively inexpensive gate
- would fix the situation, according to the Associated Press.
"This is an absolute no-brainer," said Capt. Bob Hesselbein of
the Air Line Pilots Association. "Of all the things we could do,
the most cost-effective thing we could do right now is put the
The barriers are designed to delay someone trying to rush the
cockpit giving pilots time to get back into the cockpit, said
Airlines are fighting efforts to have the secondary barriers
mandated, saying it should be up to the individual carrier to
determine if such a device would increase safety.
The Transportation Security Administration said in a report to
Congress in 2005 the barrier "appears to be a simple solution that
offers greater security at a relatively low cost."
"Valuable time is gained in deterring the movement of an
unauthorized individual towards the flight deck," the TSA
But, the TSA also refused to recommend making the barriers
mandatory, saying, "The costs of engineering and installation would
be incurred by the [airlines] to retrofit" their aircraft. "The
economic fragility of the industry due to increasing costs,
including persistently rising fuel prices, makes this a decisive
Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York, said he is going to reintroduce a
bill to require the barriers on passenger planes.
"Everybody recognizes the vulnerability," he said. "The airline
industry recognizes the vulnerability and thinks that the federal
government ought to pay for the secondary barriers. The federal
government recognizes the vulnerability and thinks that the airline
industry should pay.
"Meanwhile, for as long as the debate continues, the flying
public is less safe."
"You can never guarantee that you're going to have an armed
pilot protecting that cockpit from inside that cockpit. You can
never guarantee that you're going to have a federal air marshal, or
federal air marshal team, in the cabin to defend that cockpit,"
Hesselbein said. "But the secondary barrier, once installed, will
always be there."